Manjak by P Wamaitha N’gang’a, 2020 Mixed Media: Photograph: Mixed media-Digital image on Paper, 8-1/2″ x 11 inches
The portraits in this project pay homage to the Himba women of Namibia, renowned for their sculptural beauty, their decorated hairstyles, and their red ochre daubed skins. They live a life of almost extreme isolation in Namibia’s Kaokoland. They are a semi-nomadic, pastoral people who breed cattle and goats. The Himba women apply otjize, a paste of butter, fat, red ochre, and the aromatic resin of the omazumba shrub, each morning to their skin and hair. It gives them a distinctive red hue. Worn for beautification, otjize gives protection to their skin from the harsh climate. The rich red of the earth and blood symbolizes life.
P. Wamaitha Ng’ang’a (born 1982) is a Kenyan-British visual artist and photographer based in London, England. Using mixed media and photography, Wamaitha creates works that confront contemporary issues on women and children rights, social, political and environmental issues and cultural identity. She also works with self-portraiture in the realm of art therapy and symbolism communication, exploring the interconnections of nature, spirituality and healing. This process is a personal catharsis and reconciliation of the physical and psychological journey as she deals with her health. She studied Photography (First class BA Hons) and Media, Campaigning and Social Change (MA) at the University of Westminster, England.